2011-10-03

The Lion King – The King Returns On Blu

by Yo Snyder

Just recently, The Lion King bumped Spider-Man from the
top-ten grossing movies of all time. That’s right, the animated lions
are number ten and the teen bit by a spider is number eleven. What’s
really amazing is this is happening 17 years after the movie first came
out. It’s just a testament to the enduring appeal of one of Disney’s
all-time great films. Now, a whole new generation can be exposed to the
greatness of The Lion King. With a gorgeous 3D re-release in
theaters that has done far better than anyone imagined and with a new
blu-ray release this week, now’s the perfect time to revisit the Pride
Lands.

There’s not much I can say about the film itself beyond the
fact that it still resonates almost twenty years later. The film is
still funny and moving, and I enjoy it just as much now as the first
time it wowed me theaters. If you have a 3D set-up at home, this is a
great movie to show off what that can do as the conversion to 3D was
done with obvious care. For the rest of us, the film still looks great
on regular blu-ray. The colors are vivid and the image is sharp; this is
a beautiful version of a beautiful film. I should also note that unlike
the DVD release a few years back, the alternate version which includes
that added song, “Morning Report” isn’t on this set. You can still see
that in the deleted and alternate scenes section, but not as a part as
the regular feature; which is as it should be, in my opinion.

Of
course for movie fans such as myself, the real reason to pick this up on
blu-ray is the new special features included. The documentary “Pride of
The Lion King” is a fun look back at how the movie came together and
the legacy it left behind. It explores everything from the early
development of the film to the eventual spin-off of the wildly
successful Broadway production. I think my favorite tidbit from this is
the fact that animators wanted to work on Pocahontas rather than Lion King
because that movie was going to be the next big hit for Disney while
the lion movie, well, no one was convinced it would ever succeed. Life
doesn’t always work out the way we expect, does it? Producer Don Hahn
also put together a shorter retrospective made up of some footage that
he shot as home movies during the production. This is a really
fascinating inside look at some of the travails and troubles that faced
the production, and at the amazing success that followed. It’s a really
touching little documentary and one of my favorite features on this new
set.

Another delightful addition is the bloopers and outtakes.
The producers went back through the old recording sessions for the movie
and picked out some of the best flubs and improvs and then animated all
new scenes for them. It just shows some of the care that Disney put
into this release that they’d invest the time to do something like that.
The end result is really fun to watch, but I won’t spoil any of the
gags for you; you just need to see it for yourself. There are also
deleted and alternate scenes with commentary from the directors which is
fun to view, and Disney’s Second Screen is an option for those you who
have an iPad or other tablet device, which is a fun way to learn other
trivia about the movie as you watch it. Toss in the standard games and
other fluff extras and if you have a pretty decent set of features for
this Diamond Edition of The Lion King.

Now, many of you may already own the last Platinum Edition of The Lion King,
so you’re probably wondering why you’d want to upgrade to Diamond.
Well, if you have a 3D TV at home, this is definitely worth the upgrade.
The movie looks amazing in 3D and it’s a whole new experience. The jump
from DVD to Blu-Ray isn’t quite as drastic, but it’s a definite step-up
in quality; still it may not be a big enough difference to matter to
most. In that case, the big motivator will be how interested are you in
learning more about the movie. This new edition boasts some excellent
behind-the-scenes looks at not only the making of the movie, but also
its lasting appeal. For fans, I really don’t think you want to miss out
this stuff, and additions like the bloopers and outtakes sweetens the
deal even more. If you still just have DVDs, I’d look at it like this;
the blu-ray comes with a DVD copy, and odds are eventually you’ll
upgrade to blu-ray, so why not get the blu with the DVD copy so you can
watch it on DVD now and also have the excellent blu-ray edition for
later? That’s what I love about these Blu-Ray/DVD combo packs; you
really can’t lose with them.